President Joe Biden touted his record of green energy job creation during a visit Thursday (20 July) to a Philadelphia shipyard where he attended a steel-cutting ceremony to mark construction start of the first US offshore wind subsea rock installation vessel (SRIV).
His administration's policies, including support for landmark climate legislation, are “creating millions of good paying clean energy manufacturing jobs, including offshore wind,” Biden said at the press conference at the Philly Shipyard in Pennsylvania.
In his speech, the president contrasted his support for offshore wind with his predecessor Donald Trump, who once claimed that wind turbines can cause cancer, one of a string of allegations levelled by the former President against the industry.
“Notwithstanding what the other guy said, windmills do not cause cancer,” Biden said.
Offshore construction firm Great Lakes Dredge & Dock commissioned the $246m Acadia for use laying tonnes of rocks to buttress foundations of the Equinor-BP joint venture’s New York projects, the 2.1GW Empire and 1.3GW Beacon arrays.
It will be the first rock dumper built to comply with the Jones Act, a US law that prohibits foreign-flagged vessels from calling in at consecutive American ports or points on the outer continental shelf, including wind turbines.
The vessel’s construction will employ over 1,000 workers across nine unions “using steel plates made by the United Steelworkers in Indiana, and generating an estimated $125m of US economic activity each year”, according to the White House.
Biden used data from trade group Business Network for Offshore Wind (BNOW) to trumpet $16.6bn in new market investments since he took office in 2021 — more than quadruple the amount previously — with nearly half following passage of climate legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), he signed last August.
The IRA provides some $369bn in federal tax breaks and spending to further the country's energy transition, achieve a carbon free electric grid by 2035, and meet the administration's greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.
The White House noted that 18 offshore wind-related vessels have been commissioned since 2021, with manufacturing and construction occurring across multiple states in the Northeast and along the Gulf of Mexico. Capex for ports and manufacturing surged by $3.5bn in the same period.
“The administration’s actions have contributed significant momentum to our growing industry,” said BNOW CEO Liz Burdock.
The figures touted by Biden and his administration were included in BNOW’s second quarter market report, also released today.
The White House maintains that its 30GW by 2030 goal will generate some 80,000 direct jobs.
“When I think climate, I think jobs. I think union jobs,” Biden said.
The Acadia SRIV will stretch 140.5 meters (461 feet) in length, with a breadth of 34.1 meters and accommodate 45 crew members. It is designed to carry up to 20,000 tonnes of rock to be strategically deposited to buttress offshore wind monopiles.
“Philly Shipyard is proud to contribute to the delivery of a vessel which will be essential in achieving the nation’s offshore wind targets,” said Steinar Nerbovik, company CEO.
The shipbuilder is majority owned by Norwegian industrial conglomerate Aker.